9 Talent Trends That Are Transforming HR

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Dec 12, 2019

These days, disruption is the MO in the world of work. Your position as a leader in talent management – recruitment and development – gives you an opportunity to have a strong impact on how your organization embraces and even initiates disruption. Here are nine of the most pertinent talent management trends (adapted from my latest book, Digital YOU: Real Personal Branding in the Virtual Age) that will transform your role as an HR executive, along with the roles of the talent you recruit, develop, and support.

1. Nexting

You know better than anyone that employee tenure in many job functions and industries is shrinking. Forrester Research predicts that “today’s youngest workers are more likely to have 15 or more jobs in their lifetime.” And a study by Nintex reveals that 53% of employees don’t expect to stay at their companies beyond five years. Deloitte’s 2018 Millennial Survey highlights the mindset of Gen Zers, indicating they plan to stay with their current employer for fewer than two years. That means the new mantra for your employees is “What’s next?”

To benefit from this mindset, HR needs to help current talent identify what’s next inside their own company. It means helping team members navigate the often-complex organizational structures and perceived rivalries between siloed divisions. To retain top talent, make it easier for them to move around the organization than to find a job elsewhere.

2. Flextrapreneurship

Rigidity is gone when it comes to the entrepreneurial-intrapreneurial divide. There is increasing fluidity for professionals who shift from self-employment to traditional employment through an organization.

There are two key things HR executives need to focus on in response to this.

  • First, tap the power of the “act like an owner” mindset in freelancers who are joining the workforce.
  • Second, provide more entrepreneurial opportunities (emphasizing the freedom to innovate) to satisfy the demands of these valuable professionals.

3. Digital first

Like it or not, Google is the source for first impressions these days. We live in a relationship economy. When people want to learn about you before accepting your invitation to interview, they open a browser, type your name, and make their first impression of you based on what comes up.

Perhaps you have done this when you have recruited candidates. I call it he-surfing or she-surfing, and it’s a practice that’s here to stay. Years ago, employers never encouraged their people to create a strong LinkedIn profile (that was only for people who were looking to jump ship, right?). Now it’s the opposite: HR professionals need to make a great digital first impression, and all team members are potential brand ambassadors, so all need first-class coaching on honing their digital presence.

4. Brandscaping

The endless flood of information and digital content has created the need for “brandscaping.” It’s a noisy world. To be heard in this world, your people will need steadfast clarity and focus, especially when they’re also communicating the corporate brand. They’ll get lost in the clamor if their message isn’t clear, consistent, and constant (the three Cs of strong brands). Thus, the need for brandscaping to streamline and focus information.

Brandscaping needs to be not just part of onboarding but also part of routine professional development, regularly trimming the outdated, extraneous stuff that distracts, detracts, or disorients so that everyone in your organization (including and especially you!) will come across as pristine, potent, and powerful. Help your people build their personal brand around something — not a hundred things. That’s cacophonous. And help them understand the corporate brand. When you are all singing the same note all the time, you can be recognized, remembered, and ultimately revered.

5. Treadmill learning

You can’t stand still on a treadmill that’s in motion. If you don’t keep moving forward, you’ll fall off the back and be left behind. The same is true of learning in the new world of work, and as an HR professional, you’re at the helm of making this happen. If your people aren’t actively learning every day, with a variety of options tailored for their specific roles, they’ll quickly lose relevance and reduce their ability to innovate. Provide the opportunities and encouragement to integrate learning into their daily actions.

According to Kelly Palmer in her book The Expertise Economy: How the Smartest Companies Use Learning to Engage, Compete, and Succeed, “The one-size-fits-all mentality of corporate education is no longer relevant. Learning needs to be customized for each individual based on their skill and knowledge gaps, personal and professional goals, and specific interests.” That puts the onus on you to help your people identify the skills they need to develop and to provide the diverse learning opportunities they need so they can create a personalized learning action plan.

6. Digital advocacy

It’s clear that the 30 year, lifelong career with the same company is gone. Yet your company needs your people to be loyal. Although that seems like a contradiction, it’s not. Company loyalty has taken on a new form. This is an extension of trend #4, because once the Brandscaping

has become a regular habit of mind, it’s time to work on methods to deliver the message.

For your company to be visible and credible with all stakeholders, your people need to be fully engaged in your external communications. That means they need to become digital brand ambassadors who help expand the breadth and credibility of your company’s brand communications. This may sound like PR, but HR needs to take the lead to teach employees how to build their personal brand while supporting the goal of building enduring relationships with customers and other constituents.

7. Distance branding 

Your people are demanding flexibility. “Work Anywhere, Anytime” is no longer a special privilege; it’s the current mindset of many of your employees. Further, to maintain competitive advantage, companies are taking advantage of the communication tools that allow for virtual employees to engage and interact. The cost savings from nixing expensive real estate is too hard to ignore. That means you need to engage, inspire, and develop a workforce that is more geographically distributed and flexible than ever before. You need to build corporate culture and strong alliances despite the fact that many of your people will rarely enter your office door.

8. Digital dexterity

The one skill that your people need to master, regardless of your company’s industry or your people’s job functions, is digital dexterity. Competitive advantage will come from digital innovation. That means your people may need to disrupt their own roles and create new, higher-level roles, driven by digital expertise, that they themselves will fill. HR will need to digitally enable current staff while recruiting talent that has a mindset of both disruption and digital fitness.

Whether you’re coaching employees who work in marketing, accounts payable, or legal, you too must learn from them to bulk up your own digital muscle. Take the lead in helping your people stand at the forefront of the right digital developments — from artificial intelligence and robotics to data analytics and new social media platforms — so that they (and you) are known as your organization’s most valuable assets.

9. YOUcasting

When you can’t be in a meeting in-person, video is an effective alternative for showing presence. Today, while relationships are the currency of business, it’s harder to build relationships among members of your workforce in flexible and remote environments. Video is a big part of the solution and is an under-utilized communication tool for creating deeper connections between your people (and with you). As you’re strategically positioned to help your talent adopt video, aim to replace email and texting with video — it’s a far more powerful and valuable medium.

Video conferences should become the norm. Create an in-house video studio that provides a consistent on-brand environment for filming training messages. Create a corporate culture where everyone is comfortable with—not just ready for—their close-up.

The one thing that will remain stable in the future of HR and talent development is that nothing will remain stable. But that doesn’t mean we’re moving toward a world of work marked by constant chaos. Dive into these nine trends, and disruption will become a source of inspiration and continual renewal — helping everyone at your organization thrive.